1968 and ending in 1973, this would be the only year that the Blues wouldn't reach the Grand Final. Having said that, 1971 was still a solid year and the club was very much a victim of the final four format still being used. Carlton would finish in fifth place with a 14-8 win loss record, only half a game behind Collingwood in fourth place.
Ironically the Blues seemed to have eliminated the losing streaks that had been a part of the previous three seasons, when the club had made the Grand Final. In 1968 and 1969 the team had lost three games straight, and in 1970 four games straight. 1971 marked an end to this, Carlton only losing 2 in a row once during the season, but similarly the team was unable to string together the long winning sequences that had marked the previous seasons. Twice the team managed to win four games in a row, but was unable to match 10 in a row ('68 & '69) and 8 in a row ('70).
Collingwood would exact some revenge for the Grand Final loss to the Blues in round 11 with an 85 point win, although Carlton would turn the tables on the Pies in round 22. Hawthorn would go on to win the flag, defeating St Kilda by 7 points in the Grand Final.
This spell out of the finals limelight would be shortlived, with the Blues making the Grand Final in both 1972 and 1973.
Coach: Ron Barassi
Leading Goal-kicker: Alex Jesaulenko - 56
Best & Fairest: Geoff Southby
Peter Warburton, Paul O'Brien, Chris Mitchell, Peter Hall, Daryl Gutterson, Bill Barrot, John Warden, Geoff Southby